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Tuesday 5 December 2023 Dublin: 5°C
Alamy Stock Photo Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly

Sláintecare Council to meet Donnelly for first time since resignations

The council is discussing the state of the project with the Health Minister Stephen Donnelly.

A MEMBER OF Sláintecare’s Advisory Council fears more resignations will follow if they don’t see major action from the government in response to the stalling of Ireland’s health reforms.

Liam Doran, former general secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), told The Journal remaining members have received “no communication from government that shows they understand” the scale of the ten-year plan.

The council is discussing the state of the project with the Health Minister Stephen Donnelly at 5pm on Friday in an online meeting.

It will be their first such meeting since the resignations last week of two key figures charged with overseeing the programme, Professor Tom Keane – who chaired the Advisory Council – and Laura Magahy, the executive director of the unit charged with driving the reform programme.

The Sláintecare Implementation Advisory Council (SIAC) is an approximately 20-strong diverse group of medical professionals and patient advocates.

“We’re looking for answers,” Doran said, “This is a massive exercise. It will span three or four governments, but we’ve heard nothing and had no communication from government in the past week that shows they understand this.”

On whether he believes more resignations are likely, he said SIAC members need to see a turnaround in the implementation of the Sláintecare programme. 

“A small number of people have indicated that they are thinking about their position. We need to come out [of the meeting with the Health Minister] where we’re in a position that having taken a step backwards, we’re now taking three steps forward – but the jury is still out on that.”

He outlined several key points council members want to raise with the minister, including the specifics of Magahy’s resignation, including its cause and the “internal departmental role” which a number of members believe played a part in her stepping down.

“There needs to be a plan for people who can come in and drive and energise the process from here,” Doran added.

Among the other points he said members will be raising are the decision to place the Sláintecare office in the Department of Health, where it’s just “one of many units” rather than in the Department of the Taoiseach.

“Why was that not done from the start as was recommended in the report? The Sláintecare plan needs to be at the centrality of the whole of government,” Doran said.

Members will also be stressing that “worldwide competitive contracts” are needed for hospital consultants under the plan, as well as emphasising that the “failure to implement” the six new regional structures for the HSE needs to be tackled.

“What’s happened there is that the HSE senior management won,” said Doran.

“We need those new structures and it’s necessary because it will integrate care between hospitals and community structures much better than how it is now, where there is a multiplicity of layers of management, making it harder to do work at all levels.”

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